These civilians turned the table on the bad guys.
Ordinary Iraqis Wage a Successful Battle Against Insurgents
By ROBERT F. WORTH
Published: March 22, 2005
BAGHDAD, Iraq, March 22 - Ordinary Iraqis rarely strike back at the insurgents who terrorize their country. But just before noon today, a carpenter named Dhia saw a troop of masked gunmen with grenades coming towards his shop and decided he had had enough.
As the gunmen emerged from their cars, Dhia and his young relatives shouldered their own AK-47's and opened fire, police and witnesses said. In the fierce gun battle that followed, three of the insurgents were killed, and the rest fled just after the police arrived. Two of Dhia's young nephews and a bystander were injured, the police said.
"We attacked them before they attacked us," Dhia, 35, his face still contorted with rage and excitement, said in a brief exchange at his shop a few hours after the battle. He did not give his last name. "We killed three of those who call themselves the mujahedeen. I am waiting for the rest of them to come and we will show them."
The battle was the latest sign that Iraqis may be willing to start standing up against the attacks that leave dozens of people dead here nearly every week. After a suicide bombing in Hilla last month that killed 136 people, including a number of women and children, hundreds of residents demonstrated in front of the city hall every day for almost a week, chanting slogans against terrorism. Last week, a smaller but similar rally took place in Baghdad. Another demonstration is scheduled for Wednesday in the capital.
Just hours before the gun battle this morning, an Interior Ministry official was gunned down in Doura as he drove to work, officials said.
After a group of insurgents fled, leaving the Honda and three of their dead behind them, one was left behind, said the Doura police chief. The gunman broke into a nearby house and hid there, holding the residents at gunpoint, until his friends arrived and drove him away, the police chief said.
The owner of the house, who spoke on condition that he not be named, said the gunman entered through the garage and made his way to the living room.
"I heard the screaming of the women, so I went to see what was the matter and I saw a guy holding an AK-47," the man said.
The homeowner said the gunman then shouted: "Keep me here for a short time until I can leave the area or I will kill you all. I don't want anyone to leave this room."
They obeyed. The gunman telephoned some friends, and stayed for about an hour until they arrived to pick him up. Before he left, the owner of the house said, he issued a final warning: "If you scream or call the police, my friends will come and kill you. They know where you are."
Two of Dhia's nephews who were with him during the attack, one aged 13, one 24, were wounded, family members said. After the police arrived, they recovered the bodies of the three dead insurgents, who were identified through documents in their clothing as Abdul Razzaq Hamid, Abdul Hamid Abed, and Zaid Safaa, officials said.
Hours later, Dhia was still furiously cursing the mujahedeen when he spoke to a reporter in his carpentry shop. A Shiite cleric quickly told him to stop talking, and he complied.
Meanwhile, a group of armed neighborhood men stood watch on the roof of the house, guarding the streets leading to the Husseiniya mosque and Dhia's shop.
"I am sure they will be back," one of the guards said. "We killed three of them."